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On these pages you have read about how to be a Conscious Leader, about Conscious Businesses and how to face the world with Passion.  We have always attempted to show positive examples and highlight people and businesses we admire.

Today though, I feel compelled to discuss the other side of that coin.  A business that has displayed practices which are less than honorable.  A company that is dominating its market and believes that it can do as it pleases, when it pleases.

The company in question is Indeed.com and the story below is not only true, but is ongoing.

For approximately a year, FTR (the former name of Q4 Consulting’s Staffing arm), had been posting jobs for its largest client and Indeed was happily placing them on their website.  FTR’s client is a large international consultancy, which has (literally) thousands of openings worldwide.  When a position is open, the need is for many individuals across 19 cities in the US.  So, it was not at all unusual for FTR to open anywhere from 50 to 120 jobs in a single day.  Indeed, as well as the other “free” job boards, would place these ads on their sites, generally within 24 hours.  Candidates would apply, and positions would be filled.  All was right under heaven and earth.

As a matter of fact, things were so “all right” that the salesperson from Indeed was contacting me every month, providing traffic details and attempting to have me place Sponsored Ads–those are the ads that show up on the top and bottom of each page when a candidate performs a search.  Of course, these ads are not free, nor even cheap.  We were considering these proposals and had monthly calls with our contact at Indeed.

Suddenly, approximately 2 months ago, all our jobs were pulled off the Indeed site overnight.  On the same day I received my monthly traffic report from our salesperson and was being asked to have our monthly catch up meeting, our ads were gone.  No explanation, no reasons given.  (Mind you, every other free job site (e.g.  SimplyHire, etal) has continued to post our job ads).

Now the story gets interesting/confusing/irritating/humorous.

Since our salesperson was now on his honeymoon, I called and after reaching his voicemail, hit “0” hoping to speak to whoever was taking his calls for the next two weeks.  That, of course, led to someone else’s voicemail, where I again hit “0”, which led to someone else’s voicemail (we all know where this is leading now don’t we).  After four more voicemail boxes, I went back and left messages on each, requesting a call to explain what was happening. 

After several days of futile voicemail jail, I decided to try to find a telephone number for customer service.  None existed.  None was listed anywhere on the Indeed.com site.  So, I called the main telephone number at their Corporate Headquarters and was transferred to “Customer Service”.  I place this in quotations marks because there is really no service to be found for a customer at Indeed.  I asked to be transferred to my salesperson’s supervisor.  I was told that was not possible.  I asked to be transferred to a supervisor in Customer Service.  I was told that was not possible.  In frustration I asked to be transferred to the Office of the CEO.  I was told that was not possible.  Finally, I gave up and asked what WAS possible.  I was curtly told that they could not transfer me to anyone at all, but would be happy to send an urgent email to technical services and someone would get back to me right away.  So, I gave my description of the issue and hung up.

Anyone care to guess what happened?  Yes, you….you in the back with your hand up and that little grin.  “Nothing” you say, you are absolutely correct.  Not a darn thing.

So, I did the same thing twice a day for the next three days.

Finally, a week after the first “urgent” message, the technical lead who works with my salesperson called to explain to me that Indeed’s “Quality Assurance” team had taken our ads offline unilaterally.  It seems that a complaint came in from a job seeker to the effect that one of our ads was for a job that did not exist.  Of course, no name was given for us to verify or to contact the candidate and make things right, and we had not been asked about this before Indeed took action.  With over 1000 jobs posted, I was not surprised that perhaps one of the jobs had already been closed by the time a job seeker applied, especially since it takes Indeed two weeks or more to take down an ad after we unpost it. 

In addition, Indeed’s QA “experts” also stated that we were using two different company names (FTR and Q4).  Had these “experts” taken a brief look at the front page of our website they have realized that FTR IS Q4, but of course their “investigation” did not include either looking at the website or picking up a telephone to ask a question.  (SIDENOTE:  I have been told on several occasions by my salesperson that the QA department DOES NOT HAVE TELEPHONES.  That there is no way for anyone to contact them, except via internal email.  Really?  Really?  No telephones?)

It was explained to me that if I wanted to have a PAID sponsored ad campaign  these same jobs would be posted right away.  Let me repeat that because I am hoping you are confused as I was.  If I PAID Indeed money, both my company and my ads suddenly became compliant with Indeeds’ quality standards.  If not, my company and my ads were in violation of Indeeds’, so called, quality standards and would not be shown to jobseekers.

Wow.  Imagine that. 

I was also told that if I took out the FTR name (which we had intended to do, after our clients got use to the idea of the new, merged, company), used a different ATS feed and reposted all our jobs, there was a good chance that we could be put back up organically. 

But it was made clear that step one to getting our jobs back on Indeed was to pay money and sponsor our ads.

This was abhorrent me on many levels, not the least of which was that I was unconvinced such a campaign would be worth the investment.  Also, it seemed to fit the definition of bribery (A crime of giving a benefit (e.g., money) in order to influence the judgment or conduct of a person in a position of trust (e.g., an official or witness or Indeed’s Quality Police  (last one is my editorial)).

However, since Indeed represents 62% of all job seeker traffic, I had little option but to comply.  We invested in a new Applicant Traffic System, we cleansed all mention of FTR, and we even sponsored an ad campaign on Indeed (yes, we did pay the bribe)  (SIDENOTE:  As I thought, we had thousands of clicks we paid for and only seven actual applications, of which  merely one was worth sending to our client.  A miserable failure and a wasted investment).

All this was over a month ago and our jobs still are not up on the Indeed.com site from an organic standpoint.  I am still being told that my salesperson does not have a timeframe for QA to fix this issue, nor do we have any idea if they have even began to look into it.

HOWEVER,….

I am being told that in order to get better results on our paid campaign (which miraculously is still compliant) we need to increase the budget and pay more per click.  Still has no word what, if anything, their QA Police are doing about pulling the job ads from our new, fully cleansed, site, but if I send them more bribe…er….I mean, spend more money, everything will be okay.

Why I am bothering you with this rant, you ask?  Two simple reasons. 

One:  We at Q4 talk about sustainable leadership, we preach/teach about Promise Based Management and Culture and you will be seeing much more about the Conscious Capitalism movement.  Dr. Chris and I are honored to be on the Leadership Committee of the Chicago Chapter.  The above story is a fine example of everything is means NOT to be a Conscious Business. 

The pillars of Conscious Capitalism are:

  • A Higher Purpose that transcends profit maximization
  • Stakeholder Orientation, meaning businesses are explicitly managed for the simultaneous benefit of all of their interdependent stakeholders – customers, employees, investors, suppliers, and the larger community.
  • Conscious Leadership, which is of service to the firm’s purpose and focuses on delivering value to all the stakeholders.
  • Conscious Culture, which consists of Trust, Authenticity, Caring, Transparency, Integrity, Learning and Empowerment

Indeed.com seems to have violated each of these four pillars, as well as the trust of the industry that it is trying to lead.  Their actions have shown a total disregard for their stakeholders (both job seekers, since we represent a Fortune 50 company with great jobs and who care for their employees, and for those who post openings, since they can and do make arbitrary decisions with no investigation nor regard to the impact on our businesses). 

Their Leadership is non-existent as far as I can tell, since you cannot connect with anyone.  And certainly their culture does not appear to be trustworthy, authentic, caring or transparent at all.

Two:  I covet any input from you, dear readers, to either  tell me ours is an isolated incident and that I am wrong about Indeed (I truly hope I hear that.  I want the leaders in this industry to step up and lead in an authentic and conscious manner.  I really want you to change my mind).  Or, tell me your stories that may echo mine.

 Either way, this story is not at its end….yet.